Monday, January 21, 2019

A new champion and a new contender! SCWPro Prestige Rumble in review

It's January in wrestling which of course means its battle royal season.

SCWPro is no different as they presented their inaugural event of 2019 this Saturady, the Prestige Rumble, at their home base in Walcott. The event was built around two huge matches: the 20 man Prestige Rumble for a #1 contendership to the SCW Heavyweight title and a Last Man Standing match between champion Shane Hollister and Xander Killen for that same title.

All image credits: SCWPro on Twitter.
The show kicked off with a QC Cup defense by Braden McBride. His opponent was none other than Dante Leon. While I'm still not sure what an "Endseeker" is exactly, Leon is incredibly over with the Walcott faithful. Leon is the definition of a high flyer, but his style has started to mature as he gains more experience. His early matches were characterized by sloppiness, but he looked far more crisp against McBride.

Braden's entire title reign has been built around the aide of his valet, Miss Olivia. This match proved no different as Olivia took an inadvertent hit from Leon. McBride used the distraction to Leon and the ref to knock out Leon with the QC Cup and pick up the cheap win.

McBride gets stronger with each match, but the randomness of the QC Cup defenses frustrates me from a storytelling sense. I'd love to see someone build an actual feud with McBride and Olivia over the next few months.

Following JP Finger's dropping of his camera at the last show, Rich the camera guy challenged Finger to a match tonight. As can be expected from a comedy wrestler and a non-wrestler, this was short and goofy. The actual moves pretty much consisted of a takedown of Finger and a figure four leg lock (a move Finger can never seem to pull off right in his matches.) Finger tapped to give Rich the win and Thumb and Finger made up with the camera man by giving him a replacement camera.

Valentina Loca wasn't supposed to be in Walcott as she was booked for an IPW show the same night. That show was cancelled due to the weather which finally gave me a chance to see Valentina wrestle live. She took on Heather Reckless, a Black and Brave graduate, in her first match.

It's always fun for me to see the students that work various positions around the show break out as talent and Reckless put on a good showing for her first match. She fumbled a cartwheel but recovered and kept going quickly, which is always the right way to handle a mistake in the ring. Both women came out of the match looking good and with two female Black & Brave graduates on the roster, SCW might just have the start of women's division.

The final match before intermission was the Last Man Standing match for the SCWPro Heavyweight title. Shane Hollister and Xander Killen's feud started as an answer to an open challenge and turned into a bloodfeud between the young upstart straight edge star Killen and the veteran Hollister. Shane's family was even brought into the feud and things turned highly personal. With anything available to use as a weapon, the two men weren't afraid to get chairs, ladders, tape and a length of rope involved. They brutally beat on each other and hit multiple big moves on one another. After Xander went through a table, Shane seemed to have the match won.

Things went dark though and a masked big man hit the ring. He threw up the mannerisms of Mason Beck, throwing up the spiked finger before landing a Beck Bomb to leave Shane unconscious in the ring. When the lights came out, Xander had just enough time to recover to stand up before the ten count was finished for both men. Though he could barely stand, Killen is now the SCW Heavyweight Champion.

The new champion!
Generally intermission brings several matches after it, but as I said before it's Rumble season and Rumbles take time. The final match of the night was the twenty man and nearly hour long Prestige Rumble. Rumbles are always hard to write up with bodies everywhere and a ton of talent on tap. Connor Braxton was entrant number one. Entrant number two came as a shock to pretty much everyone, as Matt Cage made his return to wrestling after a year and a half away. "The Money" didn't seem to have lost a step as he went all out in the battle, lasting until the final three.

The rest of the line-up featured pretty much every current SCW talent: Steve Manders, JT Energy, JAH-C, Travis Titan, Shain Bender, Joeasa, Deonn Rusman, Robin Steele, Jared Thumb, Sensei Bock, Jimmy Thomas, Sage Cainan, Steven Youngblood, Johnny Wisdom, Latin Thunder, Krotch, Corn Boy (in his Walcott debut) and even a returning Nevin Knoxville.

The final three were Matt Cage, Joeasa and Travis Titan. But they weren't alone as Joeasa's stablemates (in a stable that really needs a name) Deonn Rusman and Robin Steele hit the ring to layout the competition. They saved Joeasa from elimination by Matt Cage, and then joined in a triple team to eliminate Cage from the match. That left Joeasa and Travis Titan as the final two. Titan shocked the trio by attacking headlong. He German suplexed everyone in the ring and brought it back to one on one.

Joeasa continued to try to use the numbers to his advantage, but a last minute attempt at a save by Steele failed. He hit the ground and took the loss as Travis Titan took the win in the Prestige Rumble.

I suspect the end of the match came a bit earlier than planned, but ultimately Titan's victory proved a strong go home for the show. It's always great to see a wrestling show go out on a high, especially one that sets up a new match for the future. The only question is whether it will be Xander Killen he challenges or will Shane get a rematch first. And of course, the masked man still lurks with a desire to make his presence known in SCW. There's a lot going on as SCW starts what looks like a regular schedule of two to three shows a month in Walcott, Dubuque and Iowa City.

For more on their upcoming events check out their website or follow SCWPro on Twitter.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Man Comes Around! Becky Lynch is the top wrestler of 2018!

Becky Lynch by Rob Schamberger.
Rarely can I say a talent topping the year end list made a mark on only part of the calendar year. Sasha Banks, Broken Matt Hardy and AJ Styles had career defining years with matches and stories that reshaped the wrestling world for much of 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively. The same cannot be said for Becky Lynch.

Becky first came on my radar when she was still Rebecca Knox. In the earliest days of Shimmer, she worked for the promotion yet her career seemed to be speeding to an end. She retired from in ring activity in 2008, a perplexing decision for me as she seemed to be one of the best women on the independents at the time.

In 2012 she returned to wrestling and almost immediately signed with WWE, as the promotion clearly had something in mind for the woman they renamed Becky Lynch. If you look at those early days, she clearly seemed positioned to serve as a training body for the talents WWE wanted to bring up. She wrestled regularly against Bayley, Carmella and Sasha Banks. But even as she became a more important figure in NXT, she was the one member of the Four Horsewomen never to hold the title.

Even when she was called up to the main roster, it seemed like she was destined to forever be the bridesmaid but never the bride. Even when called up to the main roster, the Divas and then Women's title eluded her grasp until the new brand split. She seemed mostly defined by betrayals during this period, with both Paige and Charlotte turning on her at one point or another. She became the inaugural Smackdown Women's Champion, but no one saw her reign as anything exceptional, and Alexa Bliss quickly stole her thunder as the next "in" star.

She spent much of the first part of the year as a body in various battles with the Riott Squad. The Iiconics became her next regular feud, but one confined only to television, and one frequently interspersed with random battles with Mandy Rose or Sonya Deville. She seemed stuck in a rut.

But SummerSlam... well, it changed a few things. In the lead up to the match between Becky Lynch and Carmella, Charlotte made her return to the roster. She won a match that inserted her into the SummerSlam title match. Becky was none too pleased that her friend turned enemy turned friend was inserted herself in Becky's chance for the title.

Things came to a head at SummerSlam. Charlotte stole a victory and became Women's Champion, only to be brutally assaulted by Becky Lynch. Thus, The Man was born.

Image credit:
Since that time, Becky has become a dominant force on Smackdown. She would win the title at Hell in the Cell and defend it against Charlotte twice more. It's hard to argue that she's the top female wrestler in the company when she went on to put on multiple amazing matches for the remaining pay-per-views of the year. Her new personality came with a cutting wit that she was only allowed to show rarely before. Even dropping the title at TLC (without being pinned) just set her up to continue a dominant streak in the months ahead.

Yet the most interesting thing about Becky throughout her WWE career is that she's carried a narrative through-line. She's always been the good person, the one that wants a better division, a better place on the card and friends. Yet even since NXT, she's always the one being betrayed by those friends. Even in her turn to the Man, she continued to be the face in her own story. Charlotte betrayed her by inserting herself in the match and taking Becky's victory. The Man is just Becky finally letting her old friendships go in favor of a better her and a better women's division.

Perhaps no place shows this better than Smackdown's invasion of Raw before Survivor Series. While it would cost Becky a place at the pay-per-view, the invasion marked her as the leader of an entire division. Her dominance made it clear she could main event anywhere and the inadvertent injury may very well end with her facing Ronda Rousey in the first ever women's main event at Wrestlemania.

Becky Lynch is the Man. And we can all be damn glad she came around.